21 May 2008

Pastors: Think before you speak!

Since my ordination 17.5 years ago, I've made a real effort to hold to one axiom from the pulpit: never use my family - especially my wife - as a nice, convenient sermon illustration. First of all, I'm not convinced that the congregation needs or wants to hear about the pastor's family. Secondly, the pastor's family lives in enough of a "fish bowl" as it is. And, third, why humiliate my own family in any way shape or form? (After all, I only need to tell stories about myself and my own mishaps, and there's plenty of humiliation to go around! Nah, I don't even need to insert myself. :-)

Well, now I have a fourth reason not to tell stories about my wife in the pulpit: sheer and utter wife's revenge! Check out this funny video - "'Before He Speaks' Pastors' Wives Get Their Revenge" (You'll have to scroll down to find it, but it's worth the effort. ;-)

Message to pastors: Don't tell stories about your wives (or others in your family), and think before you speak!


  1. The exception I find to this is I will reference things my mom or dad told me when I was little - but those are adages, not really stories.

  2. Yes, Eric, I too would see that as a different thing. Not only are you referencing adages and axioms, but you are not putting the persons on display. Also, when a pastor tells stories about wife and children, he's telling personal/private information for all to hear, whether they need to or not. Not to mention, adages from Mom and Dad are a step or two removed from the more intimate, immediate family relationships of wife and children.

  3. My husband and I agreed before we married that he would not use me or the family as sermon illustrations. Only twice has he bent that agreement: once he mentioned my grandmother who witnessed to many people (usually at the grocery store)before she died; once he referenced my brother's high school yearbook which showed a picture of the homecoming king with his "escort"--his baby daughter.
    I know of another pastor who, among his other many vexing behaviors, preaches on his family weekly. His parishoners are weary of hearing all about his family and nothing (or very little) about Christ.

  4. The video was hilarious!

    The problem isn't. It's even worse than the constant preaching about himself we get from one of our priests.

  5. Yes, in the attempt to be "relevant" or "personable," and thus talk about oneself or one's family, the Lord Jesus Christ too often gets left out of the picture.

    I also know of one congregation in which the pastor used to tell glowing stories of his family, but his congregation knew better - they knew what the family members really did! (Yikes!)

    I often think that the whole business of "sermon illustrations" is a dicey one. While many illustrations can aptly drive home the point, I've also heard (and given) too many illustrations that distract. And I know this from comments in which hearers remember the illustration rather than the point it was intended to convey in my own preaching.

    So, pastors: beware! ;-)

  6. I have only rarely made reference to my family in my sermons - and never involving something virtuous or sinful. The most recent example was quoting my three year old who points out things in unusual places by saying, "How'd that get there?"... which is what Matthew was saying about the wise men with his, "Behold!" "How'd these heathen foreigners get there?"
    The pastor my mother-in-law had years ago told stories about his family. She told me how horrified and embarassed she was for his daughter. She told him that too.

  7. Thanks for sharing that video. It was hilarious!